Did You Know? Ssseriously Cool Facts About The Eastern Rat Snake

Eastern Rat Snake facts are very interesting for snake lovers.

Is reading about snakes your favorite pastime? Then you should definitely read about the Eastern Rat snakes (Pantherophis alleghaniensis). Rat snakes belong to the family of large non-venomous snakes. This species is native to North America and is commonly spotted all over the USA but is rare in Virginia. These harmless snakes are very adaptable to a large number of habitats but prefer farmlands, wetlands, thickets, and hardwood forests. They are also spotted in abandoned urban areas in search of rodents. They are non-venomous and thus kill their prey by constricting them. Their distribution is scattered in the Northern regions and more common in the southern regions of the country. Their preference for habitat also depends on their location. You can identify any Rat snake including the Eastern Rat snakes, by weekly keeled scales on their body and their beautiful patterns and coloration. They also love preying on other small reptiles like lizards and small amphibians like frogs. These Eastern Rat snakes are believed to have a stable population and are very common. To know more about these snakes, please keep reading ahead.

If you like reading about various reptiles from the animal kingdom, also check out the hognose snake and Timber Rattlesnake.

Eastern Rat Snake

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Small rodents, birds, bird eggs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

About 1.9 lb (900 g)

How long are they?

3-6 ft (0.9-1.8 m)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black and white checkered

Skin Type

Keeled scales

What are their main threats?

Overkilling, loss of habitat, hawks, and other venomous snakes

What is their conservation status?

Least Concerned

Where you'll find them

Hardwood forests, forest wetlands, farmlands, isolated urban areas, open fields


Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York, Maryland, Virginia, North, South Carolina





Scientific Name

Pantherophis alleghaniensis





Eastern Rat Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an eastern rat snake?

The Eastern Rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) is a species of Rat snake from the Colubridae family.

What class of animal does an eastern rat snake belong to?

The Eastern Rat snake or the Black rat snake belongs to the family of reptiles.

How many eastern rat snakes are there in the world?

Eastern Rat snakes are quite common throughout the United States and so are unprotected. They are also heavily understudied so their exact population is not known.

Where does an eastern rat snake live?

Eastern Rat snakes are mostly found living in woodlands, farmlands, suburban areas, fields among others throughout the United States. They are very commonly spotted from Florida to Connecticut to South Carolina and Oklahoma to Kansas.

What is an eastern rat snake's habitat?

Eastern Rat snakes are found in a wide variety of habitats including forest wetlands, thickets, fields, farmland, and hardwood forest. These snakes thrive in edge habitats. Being an arboreal species of Rat snakes they can climb into houses undetected. They prefer living in small, cozy dark spots as their habitat, especially in winters.

Who do eastern rat snakes live with?

The Eastern Rat snake or the Black Rat snake are solitary predators and don't live together. During winter, however, they gather together to hibernate, sometimes even with other species like the Copperhead and Rattlesnakes.

How long does an eastern rat snake live?

In general, Rat snakes have a lifespan of 10-15 years and the individual species lifespan vary with their location and environment. In captivity, a Rat snake with proper food and care, live over 30 years.

How do they reproduce?

In Black Rat snakes or Eastern Ratsnakes, males reach sexual maturity earlier at the age of around seven years whereas females are fully mature at nine years of age. Adult males travel sometimes a little in search of a potential female to mate during the breeding season from May through June. Females lay their eggs in a hidden spot in clutches of 5-19. The females utilize one-third of their mass for laying the eggs and the number of eggs directly depends on the length of the female. The eggs take about 37-51 days to hatch and the females leave the juveniles on their own.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has not listed the Eastern Ratsnake in the Red List of Threatened species. Their conservation status is stable throughout its distribution in North America. These harmless snakes might lose this status soon as they have been mistreated and killed by frightened humans.

Eastern Rat Snake Fun Facts

What do eastern rat snakes look like?

The Eastern Ratsnakes species are also known as the Eastern Black Rat snake. Both males and females have the same coloration of shiny black scales on the back and creamy or white throat and chin. They often display a unique black and white checkered pattern on their belly which is mostly visible when their scales are stretched after a prey. They have a uniform slate-gray tail and keeled scales on their dorsal region that are arranged in rows of 23-27. Even though the ventral patterns are the same, a juvenile Eastern Rat snake can be differentiated from an adult Eastern Rat snake by its dark dorsal blotches and grayish ground color. The juveniles also have a prominent black pupil with a white margin which is absent in the adults and juveniles are more vulnerable to predators like hawks, raccoons, foxes, great horned owls, and even other venomous snakes, yet they hunt in solitary and don't depend on any parental care.

Eastern Rat snakes are harmless and adorable snakes.

How cute are they?

The Eastern Ratsnakes can be considered cute and harmless as well. They are one of the largest species of Rat snakes and are non-venomous in nature. It is commonly known as the Black Rat snake in North America. Their shiny, long, white, and black scaled body makes them quite attractive These snakes are not aggressive in nature. They mostly freeze or quickly slither away. These snakes are excellent predators and help to control the rodent population.

How do they communicate?

Snakes in general communicate through releasing chemicals called pheromones from their body, which gives them enough information like the other snake's age, gender, and others. They also have a forked tongue that they flick in and out to sense their surroundings.

How big is an eastern rat snake?

Eastern Ratsnake species are one of the largest non-venomous snake species. These snakes are much bigger than a few of the popular venomous snakes' species like the Black Mamba, Rattlesnakes, and others. They are usually 3-6 ft (1-1.8 m approx) though the largest ever Eastern Rat snake recorded was 7.5 ft (2.2 m) long and weigh on average about 1.9 lb (900 g).

How fast can an eastern rat snake move?

Eastern Ratsnakes are great swimmers and climbers as they are also an arboreal species. Research shows that Rat snakes in general have a lightning-quick acceleration of 274 mps2. Their speed helps them chase their favorite small rodents.

How much does an eastern rat snake weigh?

Eastern Ratsnakes are on the larger side of its family of Colubridae. The adult Eastern ratsnake weighs about 1.9 lb (900 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Eastern Ratsnakes being a snake species, don't have any specific term or name for their males and females. They are referred to as male Eastern rat snakes and female Eastern Rat Snakes.

What would you call a baby eastern rat snake?

Baby snakes, in general, are called snakelets in their juvenile stage and hatchlings when they are newborn babies.

What do they eat?

Eastern Ratsnakes are predatory animals. The Eastern Rat snake diet includes primarily small rodents the most but they also hunt birds, bird eggs, small amphibians like frogs, and other smaller reptiles. As they are non-venomous, they use their body by wrapping the prey and constricts them to death and then their double-jointed jaws to swallow them.

Are they aggressive?

No, the Eastern Rat snakes are not an aggressive snake species. These North American snakes when threatened, instead of attacking, release a foul-smelling musk that imitates the taste of poison. There have been very rare cases of attacks by the Eastern Ratsnake on humans, as these snakes are quite timid. On sensing danger, they freeze or simply slither away from the site of the said danger from predators.

The Eastern Rat snake bite is not deadly, but it is painful and swelling. Some species are known to have a mild venom which is quite mild in comparison to humans. They sometimes climb into human households and are often found in attics and dryer vents. To remove such a rogue snake from your house or dryer vents, it is advised to take help from professionals as these snakes have great strength and super fast speed.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, the Eastern Ratsnake actually makes a great pet. These American snakes are very easy to take care of and handle as they prey on rodents all their life. Juveniles take on small pinkie mice and adults can easily prey on a large rat. They have a docile nature and are capable of living in a variety of habitats in different temperatures and conditions. They only require a glass or plastic enclosure long enough for their body to stretch out. These snakes are also very useful as pets, as they prey on rodents, they are very good for controlling the rodents in our household and keep the house rodent-free.

Did you know...

The Eastern Ratsnake or the Black Rat snake do not simply hibernate but go through a process of brumation, where most of the body sleeps and only allows basic body functions like drinking water and more.

The female Eastern Ratsnake can produce up to two batches of eggs in a year.

At times, Rat snakes mimic the Rattlesnakes and fools the predator to be venomous.

Eastern Rat snakes are diurnal (active during the daylight) in nature but only during spring and become nocturnal during summer.

The Eastern Rat snakes have subspecies like the Black Rat snake, the Yellow Rat snake, and more.

These Eastern Rat snakes are semi-arboreal i.e. they don't live on trees but they are climbers and climb high trees in search of bird's eggs.

What do eastern rat snakes do in winter?

Like all snakes, the Eastern Ratsnake also goes into hibernation being a cold-blooded reptile. This black snake is often seen coming together with other snakes of the same or a different species to hibernate together. They usually enter their den sometime around early to mid-November i.e. the late autumn.

What is another name for the eastern rat snake?

The Eastern Ratsnakes are called by various names depending on their location. Some of their common names are Pilot snake (they take shelter with other snake species), Black Pilot snake, Eastern Black Rat snakes, and Chicken snake (as love to prey on chicken eggs) in the northern regions. In the southern regions, they are called the Yellow Rat snake (due to their unique coloration), and Everglade Rat snakes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including black racer snake, or kingsnake.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Eastern rat snake coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.